Teaching Children with Autism, continued

Reminiscence, continued

When I retired, I told my wife that I was going to get a rocking chair and sit on the porch – and after a few months maybe rock a little. But then, a little office space opened up in the mall literally across the street from where we lived, so I rented it and set up a psychotherapy and biofeedback practice, for something to do. I did that for ten years until I became interested in autism. My daughter had been working as an instructor therapist, and I decided that I should find out what that was all about. So I decided to self-educate, mainly off of the internet. After 2-3 years of that, I was beginning to think that I knew enough about autism to talk to other people in the field.

(Time for a digression. One year, I attended an American Psychological Association convention in Miami. It was a big convention, with shuttle busses to take us from one to another of the several hotels that were hosting the convention. Since I was on my own, I thought that it might be desirable to meet some of the other attendees, beginning with making eye contact with the other riders on the shuttle bus. Impossible! No one else would make eye contact. On the bus, eyeryone was in their own little world. Psychologists just a little weird, a bit autistic? Well I guess!)

The Ontario Government had recently established an ABA-based treatment program for children with moderate-to-severe autism. I got in touch with Adrienne Perry, the psychologist who was serving as point of contact between the government and the agencies that were contracted to administer the Intensive Behavioural Intervention called for by the program. She gave me the names of about six possible contacts and I called each of them in turn. Only one of them would even talk to me. (It had been the same when I set up my psychological practice in Oakville some ten years earlier. In an effort to be collegial, I had phoned several psychologists in town, and none of them could be bothered to meet. Of course, maybe it was just me that they were avoiding.)

In this case, one said that they only dealt with their own staff. Another said that he would have to check with his staff to see if they would agree to him talking with me. Still another was more forthright; he asked why he would help someone who might potentially become competition for him! Only one of these “professionals,” Janis Williams, would even meet with me – and she offered me a job. So, for the next nine years, I became responsible for dealing with the service providers hired by parents to provide treatment for their kids. When I turned seventy-five, my wife talked me into retiring again; and now all I do is try to keep my hand in by supervising a few of these children whose parents receive “direct” funding, money with which to hire their own treatment staff. Well, that and lawn bowling, curling, looking after my grandchildren, blogging, etc.

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